Court orders continuation of investigation into bar bribery case

Finance Minister K. M. ManiTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Vigilance Court here directed continuation of investigation into the bar bribery case on Thursday.

The Court rejected the Vigilance Director’s recommendation for dropping the case against Kerala Finance Minister K. M. Mani.

It said that there was prima facie a case against Mr. Mani. Returning the report submitted to the Court by the Vigilance, the Court asked Investigation officer R. Sukesan, who had unearthed some evidence in the case, to continue with the investigation.

Stung by the verdict, the Vigilance Director Vinson M. Paul wrote to the Government to relieve him from post and went on leave.

Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan, CPI (M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, BJP State president V. Muraleedharan and other opposition leaders demanded resignation of Mr. Mani, but Mr. Mani rejected the demand. The Chief Minister said that that the directive of the Court was not something unusual. The Court had simply returned the report and its resubmission after further investigation.

The Opposition staged a dharna before the Secretariat following the Court order. Tension prevailed at the Secretariat gates as some of the protesters tried to barge into the Secretariat.

The Court order has struck a blow to the government amidst the campaign for the elections to the local self governments. KPCC president V. M. Sudheeran maintained that the order would not affect the ruling Front’s prospects.